978-0-86547-544-1 / 9780865475441

Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin


Publisher:North Point Pr



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About the book:

A seminal history of the Gothic imagination, from the seventeenth century to the present day.

The birth of gothic can be said to date to the eruption of Vesuvius in 1631, an event so powerful it created a new landscape. Indeed, it was the desolate and savage landscape paintings of the seventeenth-century artist Salvator Rosa, with their precipices, ruined castles, dark caves, and contorted trees, that provided the original visual and imaginative frame of the genre. In England, under Rosa's influence, William Kent created the first gothic garden when he planted a dead tree in the grounds of Kensington Palace.

Castles and country houses built like castles are another manifestation of the gothic imagination: in real life, in pictures, and in gothic stories. They are usually places of fear and anxiety; none more so than in Mitchelstown in Cork, where one family lived up to their home: surrounded by stories of murder, sexual degeneracy, eccentricity, madness, decay, and ruin.

Whatever the genre, gothic is about exaggeration, about immoderation. This revelatory history ranges through art, architecture, gardening, literature, photography, filmmaking, music, and clothing design, and takes in artists and characters as various as Byron, Horace Walpole, Goya, Frankenstein's monster, Edgar Allan Poe, Dracula, Jackson Pollock, The Addams Family, David Lynch, The Terminator, and The Cure.

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